Founder and President of Ashesi University College has reiterated that, Ghana’s failure to meet its development challenges will only invite institutions such as the IMF to force us to do the right thing.
“We have to fix our problems, nobody is going to fix it for us,” Dr. Awuah noted on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Friday.
This conclusion he believed, captures the mood of 140 conference participants who huddled over to think through Ghana’s economic challenges at Senchi a fortnight ago.
Good times in Ghana is said in the past tense as the country blessed with natural resources mourns over lack and a lacklustre economy. Growing at 7.4% and with over 30,000 new graduates to feed yearly, youth employment remains an economic threat which has also been upgraded into a national security issue.
Businesses this year have been left with “some frustration” over government’s management of its national currency, the cedi; after it plummeted against major trading currencies.
The cedi sells at Ghc3 to a dollar. Despite the challenges, President John Dramani Mahama has rallied Ghanaians to remain optimistic of a turnaround in 8 months.
140 thought-leaders in business, education, politics, governance came together for three days of a brain-storming activity resulting in the release of a 22-point plan on how to move the country’s problems – it is now known as the ‘Senchi Consensus’.
With no media reportage allowed within the floor of dialogue, President Patrick Awuah has provided insight into the minds of his colleagues during the dialogue.
He explained, participants were armed with the conviction, Ghana has two choices – to solve our problems or delay, an option which will invite the IMF to force us to do the right thing.
“There are some tough decisions Ghana has to make”. We make those decisions ourselves… or go running to the IMF to make us get on the right path”.
Government is thought to be mulling over the option of going for an IMF bailout to obtain funds thought to go into development projects.
The nation’s Trades Union Congress says that is not an option.
Outlining “major” problems, Dr. Patrick Awuah said government would need to tackle the public wage bill- which bites off 57% of tax revenue. Unsatisfactory public service means, the country in need of cash is also in need of better public service.
And the government would need to restore business confidence eroded by microeconomic inconsistencies, the management expert counseled.
According to Dr. Awuah, government can solve these problems if it keeps the conversation among thought-leaders going by organising regular types of the National Economic Forum.
He said despite their “strong systems”, established countries of the world keep meeting for G-8 Summits and World Economic Fora.
“In a developing country like ours, it’s even more important that we have regular consultations,” Dr. Awuah argued.
The last economic forum was organised in 2001 under President John Agyekum Kufuor.
This 13-year break, or “large gaps in the conversation,” he said, only goes to deepen public “cynicism” that the Senchi Consensus will amount to nothing.
Meeting to review outcomes of such economic dialogue will ensure that recommendations do not go waste.
His expectations are that government would also organise to focus on specific areas such as education or health.
The Ashesi President was grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and said he would “gladly” do it again whenever he is called upon.